Andre James 25/01/2018 19comments  |  Jump to last

Always an avid fan of all sports, I got on the train at Euston to head North last Saturday ready to watch my first match of Dyceball. It was freezing and wet on the walk from Lime Street to Goodison but the idea of some Bovril and witnessing 90 minutes of Sam Allardyce’s contribution to world sport made up for it.

Settling into my seat in the Gwladys Street End, I was curious and excited about how things would unfold.

Early on I could tell that Dyceball is concerned chiefly with playing from the first quarter of the pitch. It also differs from football because you only have 10 players as opposed to the traditional 11. There had clearly been an error whereby the winner of a Goodison Match Day Tour competition somehow got left on the pitch from the first whistle and it would appear that Dyceball prohibits anybody coming off during the game so this man was left to wander around in our kit for the entire match.


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He looked a bit dazed and confused, often getting in the way of Everton players but never, ever, doing that to our opponents. I really must doubt the referee for not realising and ordering this member of the public off the pitch. Perhaps VAR will clear things like this up?

Anyway, the 10 men of Everton seemed to want to pull West Bromwich Albion onto them and presumably spring into action. They achieved the former beautifully but rather failed with the latter. I can only surmise that Dyceball puts the players under such a mental strain that while shouldering the burden of the hypnotised instructions from Sammy Lee, they become ponderous.

And it would also seem that Dyceball is not about urgency or physicality and so, because of this clash of cultures with the sport their opponents were playing, West Brom broke through into our dee-fensive quarter and scored.

A bit of a set back but I was confident we would settle down and gradually grind down our auspicious opponents with some well executed Dyceball. It then occurred to me that Dyceball must be about timing because for the remainder of the half we spent our time lulling WBA into a false sense of security by not attacking and hitting balls horizontally across the park into zones. I could now see the cunningness of Dyceball.

Although I was reluctant to depart the great battle of tacticians and high octane energy before my eyes, the lure of a hot dog meant I hurried down stairs with about 5 minutes to spare. Presumably hundreds of fans need to acclimatise and discuss the finer points of our new sport so that it was absolutely packed down there.

Anyway, on with the second half and that poor fan wearing our kit was still on the pitch and he looked even more unhappy and jittery. Everton had brought on Bolasie, surely a true exponent of Dyceball? But things didn’t seem to go to plan and we remained 1-0 down.

The back line is easy to understand. We have a left half who has obviously been drilled to practice with his right foot as much as possible. Quite an innovation from Big Sam. One feature of this sport is that the goal kicks now resemble a line out in Rugby Union whereby both teams line up on the right of the pitch and then our keeper kicks it towards them giving everyone a chance to get the ball.

Dyceball is also about competing in zones. Our right half played the ball into the fourth quarter a couple of times but sadly nobody had got there. Same for Bolasie who ran between Quarters 2 and 3 but left the ball behind in Quarter 2 where nobody was waiting. The horrible injury to our sole defensive midfielder meant a stocky gentleman came on his place and there was a big tactical change. Aha, I thought, now we are reaching overtime we will use him as a quarter back and win the day.

Indeed, after some long hits from our quarterback which didn’t come off, he went further up, eschewing the basics of Dyceball and we uncharacteristically found ourselves in their penalty zone and scored.

I was now off my seat and fully expecting us to romp home by scoring a try but that didn’t happen and WBA had the cheek to break ranks and attack us. I thought it was really unfair and unkind that they continually targeted our competition winner who was obviously an innocent bystander.

Our quarterback was doing his best, dropping deep and hitting more balls into their zone but his team mates kept on forgetting to get into those zones and so we failed to score a winner.

It did occur that I should call it Diceball because we seemed to continually roll a dice and hope for a 6 but mostly get snake eyes. As the game ended there was lots of talk of relegation. Well I just don’t think it is fair we should be relegated.

We are playing a completely different sport to anybody else in the Premier League and we have one less player every match. Surely there should be some other league we can play in or dispensation? Nevertheless, I am looking forward to my next 90 mins of Dyceball at home to Palace. We need to be wary of them, Big Sam used to be their manager so they will be fully aware of all the subtleties and complexities of Dyceball.

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Reader Comments (19)

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Jim Bennings
1 Posted 26/01/2018 at 08:46:40
Dyceball, you see, is a very alien object at Everton.

The players don't get to use that round object very much resulting in them all looking rather scared of it .

They appear to look at it with thoughts of “will it hurt us, is it dangerous?”

Nobody wants more than the minimum of touches of it and nobody looks comfortable with it .

Personally I think they should ban it full stop from Goodison because last Saturday the object was in the air so much (usually quite high up in the air too) it could well have been on the radar as an Unidentified Flying Object interfering with British aerospace .

William Cartwright
2 Posted 26/01/2018 at 10:17:56
A feature of Dyceball (well it has in all honestly been a feature of Everton for a long time before Sam's arrival), is the sneaky tactic at the kick off:-

First we toss a coin to see if we can employ the ruse. Yes its heads! We can! Here we go then; tap it back or sideways immediately from the 'off' and then hoof it up high and far so that the opposition who have a clearer view of it (eyes being in the front of their heads) than our players, and there are more of them already positioned in their half, can thus take possession.

The parallel tactic is to receive it from the kicker-offer and then hoof it into touch, also in the opposition half. This is better because it gives them more time to consolidate their positioning and usually they throw it back to the goalie to give him an early feel of the ball.

Such charity from Everton is never lost on the supporting community. Although why we keep repeating the tactic is beyond me. Benevolence by the management, I suppose.

Denver Daniels
3 Posted 26/01/2018 at 22:30:18
Ha ha, William. Your comments took me back a few years to the Moyes days. However, you forgot the old classic of when we had a throw in and no-one would show for the ball, so we just threw it down the line to no-one in particular.
Jack Convery
4 Posted 26/01/2018 at 23:45:24
Love it, Andre. We are certainly Dycen with death at the present time! A long lingering painful death it is too.
Len Hawkins
5 Posted 27/01/2018 at 21:46:50
Talking about Kick-Off – have the laws changed where you don't have to propel the ball forward as it always goes backwards when Everton kick off. Or is this just another quirk of Dyceball which differentiates Everton and the rest of football?

Plus I seem to remember Sam saying "the first pass hasto be forward" or does that not count at Kick-Off?

Andrew James
6 Posted 28/01/2018 at 13:37:45

The last pass must go forward. Usually as the official has the whistle between his lips about to blow so that there's absolutely no risk this brave nay adventurous move doesn't backfire.

Danny Broderick
7 Posted 28/01/2018 at 14:06:02
Bit of a one-eyed view!

“We have a left-half who has obviously been drilled to practice with his right foot as much as possible. Quite an innovation from Big Sam.”

Ah, of course. Old twinkle toes Ashley Williams was previously a swashbuckling centre-half, spreading left-foot passes around the pitch until Allardyce told him to play like Bambi on Ice!

Regarding the missing player – has to be Schneiderlin. He's a magician that lad – this is now the third Everton manager he has done a disappearing act under this season. Hope he disappears for good in the summer. Have a go at Allardyce for his poor display if you want; I'd rather lay the blame at the player.

I also travelled up from Euston for the game. I told a few mates of mine after the game that this team needs major surgery. It's not all down to Allardyce. We have no left-hand side. We have Williams and Martina next to each other on the left of our defence. In front of them, we have Schneiderlin. Vlasic and Bolasie were both shite on the left on Saturday; we have had nothing on the left all season.

You can argue reasonably that it's Allardyce picking these players. That is true, but I would say there are no real alternatives in most of these positions. Pick two centre-halves from Jagielka, Keane, Holgate and Kenny – there is no obvious partnership there to my mind. It's Martina or no-one at left-back. The only obvious change to me is Gueye for Schneiderlin – Gueye is our best defensive centre-mid. On the left wing, no-one has nailed it down yet. Bolasie is finding his feet again – let's hope he can do it.

Why not give Allardyce a chance? It's not exactly an easy job he has inherited!

Steve Ferns
8 Posted 28/01/2018 at 14:41:14
Why not give Allardyce a chance?

Because he's a terrible manager. One who has lost far more games than he's won. One who is close to retirement age. One whose best claim is to have modernised football some 25 years ago. One whose tactics are horrendously out-of-date. One who cannot get his teams to have a shot on goal, never mind score. One whose teams cannot maintain any consistency.

But ultimately, he's a failure of a Premier League manager who has never ever had a winning record at any of his previous six Premier League clubs.

His Premier League record reads like this:

Bolton 226 80 66 80 275 301 35.4%
Newcastle 21 7 5 9 27 33 33.3%
Blackburn 76 26 21 29 86 108 34.2%
West Ham 114 35 28 51 129 151 30.7%
Sunderland 30 9 9 12 40 44 30%
Crystal Palace 20 8 1 11 21 30 40%
Everton 10 3 4 3 9 11 30%
TOTAL 497 168 134 195 587 678 33.8%

7 clubs, not a winning record at any of them. The guy is a losing manager and we're paying him a fortune to lose at us. Who was the last Everton manager to have a losing record? Walter Smith in 2002. Very few Everton managers have ever come close to having such a record.

The guy is a loser, he loses more than he wins, and he's making the team worse.

Andrew James
9 Posted 28/01/2018 at 17:25:59
Hey Danny

The "left half" is a Dyce ball term and the player was Martina. I felt sorry for him because they targeted him and, every time Williams gave him the ball, he immediately gave it back as if to say "Duh, I'm right footed remember?"

I find it hard to support Allardyce when firstly he's continued with certain players who have been woeful all season; and secondly, he's got us playing the percentage nonsense. Personnel-wise, there are some parts of the pitch where he has no viable options but others where he has choices and stubbornly refuses to change.

Michael Kenrick
10 Posted 28/01/2018 at 18:46:35
Not hugely impressed by stats but, Steve (#), those numbers are compelling, to say the least.

The striking thing is the consistency. And the worrying thing has to be that the lowest... the lowest winning percentage is at Everton!!!

I hate the predictive analyses of what our results will be in the upcoming games, but extrapolating this trend has us running things close. 14 games left and we might win 4 of them... that's 40 points. Should be enough – any draws we get in the remaining games should take us over that.

But what do they say of those financial investment opportunities? "Past performance is not necessarily and indicator of future results..."

Tony Hill
11 Posted 28/01/2018 at 18:57:43
Yes, it would be wise to see what happens until the end of the season unless – and the anti-Allardycers are queasy about this – it is thought that the manager is to be sacked immediately and replaced by someone presently unknown. Perhaps we should bring back David Unsworth in the interim to pick up after his West Ham success and see if he was the right man all along?

I doubt, though, that our salvation lies in statistics, damning or otherwise.

Michael Kenrick
12 Posted 28/01/2018 at 19:01:04
But, if you look at Points Percentage, which includes the draws and therefore surely is more meaningful, then he is actually doing a little better at Everton (43.3%) than his average return (42.8%):

Bolton 226 80 66 80 275 301 45.1%
Newcastle 21 7 5 9 27 33 41.3%
Blackburn 76 26 21 29 86 108 43.4%
West Ham 114 35 28 51 129 151 38.9%
Sunderland 30 9 9 12 40 44 40.0%
Crystal Palace 20 8 1 11 21 30 41.7%
Everton 10 3 4 3 9 11 43.3%
TOTAL 497 168 134 195 587 678 42.8%

Pro-rated over the 14 games to come, that would give us another 16 or 17 points... 44 or 45 to finish.

Lies, damned lies and statistics, eh?

Peter Gorman
13 Posted 28/01/2018 at 19:03:18
Whichever way you slice those stats, Michael, looks pretty shite.
Jay Harris
14 Posted 28/01/2018 at 19:06:20
Given the shambles he inherited, it was always going to be a bumpy ride.

I am sure many of us wanted Ancelotti, Tuchel or Simeone – hell even Van Gaal would have done but none of them were interested and to show how fickle we are none of us were advocating Eddie Howe at the time because Bournemouth were struggling.

Personally, I did not want Silva because I don't think he's got nearly enough in his locker nor on his CV.

I would prefer to wait till the end of the season and see if we can find someone of the standard to improve us and get us back among the elite although that will be a long process involving more patience than some are showing now.

As it stands, Allardyce was the only credible option available to us so I wish we would get behind the man and the team at least until we're safe.

Andrew James
15 Posted 28/01/2018 at 22:14:43

He should be doing better, he inherited the best set of players and budget he ever has had.

Rooney and Niasse – just like with Koeman – have got him out of jail a few times.

His "respect the point" shtick went out the window once we were getting done by Bournemouth and Spurs away.

School of Science? His football is a science I never studied nor would want to.

Craig Walker
16 Posted 29/01/2018 at 16:17:55
I have a good mate who I play football with who is a massive West Ham fan. I used to run him to football every Wednesday night. Allardyce was manager at the time.

He despised the way Allardyce set the team up to play the game because it was against everything that West Ham fans wanted from their team. He wanted rid of him for months. West Ham fans want entertaining football and to be competitive, as do Newcastle fans (maybe both clubs have delusions of grandeur).

Admittedly, Everton should have higher aspirations given the amount of time we've spent in the top flight, our historical record of winning trophies and our regular top-8 finishes over recent history. However, their fanbases are similar to us Evertonians.

When I mentioned this on TW during the period where it looked likely that Big Sam would become our manager, I got told that "West Ham and Newcastle are yo-yo basket-case clubs. He's never worked at a club like Everton with our support and financial backing". Sadly, Allardyce is delivering everything I expected of him.

We'll probably stay up but we'll be bored and frustrated. The day we took Allardyce as manager is the day we said that we are content just to stay in the Premier League.

Incidentally, I don't think Silva was the answer either. He's a flash-in-the-pan manager just like many others down the years, eg, Curbishley, Burley – even Mike Walker.

Peter Lee
17 Posted 30/01/2018 at 06:20:43
Andrew, if you judge our current squad to be the best set of players Allardyce has ever had to work with, you never saw the Bolton side he put together. I'd argue that his West Ham squad were better too.

As for Hammers fans who wanted "the West Ham way"... well, that has produced more relegations than trophies.

Peter Lee
18 Posted 30/01/2018 at 06:29:26
Like or not, in the latter case nobody forces you to go, the job of any manager is to win games. It isn't to satisfy the multifarious demands of fans most of whom have never done the job.

If you can't win it, you do your best not to lose it. We went behind early to a poorly defended goal. Confidence wasn't great but they kept at it. We got a draw. I think our silky neighbours might have taken that against the same opposition at the weekend, or indeed in South Wales last Monday.

Andrew James
19 Posted 31/01/2018 at 00:05:54
Peter – That Bolton squad did not have a potential England keeper, the highest England goal scorer and various other expensive players in it. It was a side that regularly finished beneath our own very cheaply purchased team was it not?

And as for the West Ham squad he had... now come on – don't be silly.

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